This classical Pilates arm weight series works your core and helps improve posture in addition to toning your arms, according to Pilates teacher Karrie Adamany, author of “The Pilates Edge.” Joseph Pilates developed this series in the early 1900s, handing it down to his protégé Romana Kryzanowska, who taught it to Adamany. Use a weighted bar of no more than 5 pounds for these exercises, or get creative using something you already own, such as your tennis racket, a golf club or a broom handle. Perform each exercise standing tall with your navel drawn in toward your spine.
Arm Curl Front
This exercise works your biceps, the muscles on the front of your upper arms, and helps create stable shoulder blades, a key concept in avoiding rotator cuff injuries, says Lauri Ann Stickler, author of “Pilates for the Outdoor Athlete.” Hold the bar at shoulder height with your palms turned up. As you inhale, squeeze your biceps and bend your elbows to a 90-degree angle. As you exhale, extend your arms forward. Maintain the squeeze on your biceps throughout the movement. Perform up to 10 repetitions.
This movement works your triceps, the muscles on the back of your upper arms, also known as “bingo wings.” Hold the bar against your upper thighs with your palms facing your body. Touch your fists together. Inhale and bend your elbows out to the sides, lifting the bar up the center of your torso. Do not raise your shoulders. Exhale as you lower the bar back to your start position. Repeat up to 10 times. You can add a lower-body component to this exercise by arranging your feet in a “V” position. As you raise the bar, lift your heels up. Slowly lower your heels as you lower the bar.
Side to Side
Work on your spinal mobility with this exercise. Hold the bar in your right hand and lift it above your shoulder. Inhale as you arch to the left. Allow your ribcage to expand as you root your feet down and reach your arm long. Exhale as you return to upright. Pass the bar to your left hand and arch to the right. Repeat this movement up to four times on each side. You can add a triceps stretch component to this exercise by bending your elbow and wrapping your arm around your head while you arch over.
Prevent wrist injuries by strengthening your wrists and forearms with this exercise. Hold the pole at shoulder height with your palms turned down. Roll the pole forward, alternating between your left and right hands. Keep your arms still and your shoulders down. Perform five turns with each hand, and then reverse direction for a second set. Adamany advises working with a light weight, eventually increasing your repetitions, rather than increasing the weight of the pole.
- The Pilates Edge; Karrie Adamany and Daniel Loigerot
- Pilates for the Outdoor Athlete; Lauri Ann Stickler
Based in Portland, Ore., Christine Binnendyk has written about health topics since 2001. She is the author of the book "Ageless Pilates" and her work has appeared in "SELF" magazine and "Pilates Pro." Binnendyk holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Connecticut and certifications from YogaFit, ACE, IDEA, Oregon School of Massage and the Pilates Studio of New York.